Ft. Collins museum of discovery

Since we were up so early we stopped by the library to waste some time before heading to the museum, but they were closed. So, we went to a park. Hannah played on the swings while the rest of us walked down to see the Cache la Poudre river.

When we walked back over to the playground, Hannah was screaming bloody murder. She had tried to fit into the baby swing, you know, the one with the leg holes…and she was stuck. We pushed and pulled, but she was stuck good. The plastic was cutting off the circulation to her legs they were crammed in there so tight. I was thinking that we would have to call the fire department to come cut her out, so I tried to think of something that would make her legs slippery enough to get out of the swing. Thank goodness I had hand sanitizer in the car. We slathered it all over her legs and I pushed on her feet while Bethany pulled from the top and Hannah popped right out. It’s one of those stories that I will tell her children, the time your Mama got stuck in a baby swing. She was fine but had bruises on the top of her legs from where we had pushed and pulled against the plastic…needless to say she is never going to try that again (well, never say never, but I’m pretty sure she won’t…)

The reason we were camping was so we could wake up and already be in Ft. Collins for a co-op at the science museum.

I have wanted to go to this museum for awhile, but we just haven’t.

Now that we’ve been, we’re going back for sure. It was awesome. We watched a digital dome movie about prehistoric sea monsters and then got to tour the museum.

Want to lift a piano? They have a lever set up and you can try pulling the rope to lift the piano by placing the rope at different points on the lever.

There were musical instruments to play, a sound booth where you could jam on a piano, guitar or drums alone or together.

There were crazy experiments like biting on a straw that was attached to a metal pole to hear music through your teeth.

The tornado chamber was a hit with Hannah.

Grace liked the mesmerizing metal disks that flowed like water in the air movement experiment.

I liked the digital music maker.

We played around and explored things like: building a trumpet and trying to play it, learning about beavers and dams, learning about kinetic energy, doing a ping-pong maze, watching water pulse with tones and more.

We stopped to eat lunch and then went back into the museum to play with friends.

That was a great co-op, we will be coming back to play there and swim in the river this summer.


The prompt yesterday was hard: 16. Write a poem that includes the words other, mother, smother and/or cover at least 10 times (any of the words or all). Feel free to add other words and phrases that sound similar (such as brother and of her).

The mother
called every other
The brother came
running in
chasing every other

My mother
called my little brother
as he tried to hover.

My other
has a child
that is my
My father
him with gifts.

Why do you never say
Oh, Mother!
It’s only
Oh, Brother!
Does it bother
anyone else?
I wonder
if every other
thinks we should
an Oh!
every now and then too.

Today’s was better: 17. Write a poem as an elderly version of yourself looking back on these years. I love that Hannah’s ‘older self’ is 10!

This is from your ten year old self:
Spend more time dancing,
because it makes you happy.
Spend more time drumming,
because it makes you feel good.
And also,
math gets harder.

Be sure to say thanks.
Thanks for taking me to a whale movie,
thanks for taking me to
Making Waves to meet
Mr. Cousteau,
and driving me to the river.
Also, that trip I took,
that mentor I met,
it was the best day ever,
so, say thanks.

You thought
that you couldn’t
do this,
but I have already done it.
Do not underestimate

I often wondered then
was it worth it?
Looking back now,
I say yes.
It was good to say
today we are going on a road trip,
today we are doing school
in a museum,
today we are reading a book under the
canopy of a tree,
today we are making a memory.
It was good to make learning
happen early and spend afternoons
lazing by the river, watching the ducks float by.
It was good to say that school could be
an IMAX movie about whales,
or cleaning up a river,
or dancing with the Moscow ballet,
or flying a plane.
Those moments, they will stick around
So, to myself I say yes,
it was worth it.

Today we did some school and then went to the library for my art co-op. I didn’t take my camera, which is too bad because there were some great pieces being created. We were making mosaics, but in reverse. We started with a shape, crumpled it, smoothed it out, colored it, then ripped (or cut) the shape and glued it onto construction paper. The kids could crumple the paper to make lines that they then traced over and colored, or the could just draw lines and color, or just color without lines. They could cut or rip the paper and assemble it back into the shape, or not. It was just an hour and a half of creative art, make what you want. The Moms got to make some art too, which is always nice.

Bethany is making art too, today she used sparkle (I didn’t realize it was sparkle) Mod podge to glue pages from a dictionary to a frame back. She’s almost done with her zentangle hands that go on top of the paper and there are letters we stamped with the die-cut machine at RAFT that spell out ‘you are more’. The art is for CORE’s WOW show and it’s a collage based on a song and kind of inspired by Barbara Kruger (whom she found out about during her art class.) I think it will look really cool when she’s done, I’ll take a picture of it then.

Ortho, edible plants, retreat, Frozen

We started the day off at an ortho appointment for Bethany, it’s the same outfit, but this location is closer to us. I like this guy better, he thinks that the space left by pulling her last baby tooth (which had no permanent tooth) can be brought together. This is good for many reasons, for one thing it means she won’t have to get an implant and for another…it’s cheaper than getting an implant. Then we headed to Boulder to CU for the medicinal/edible plant walk.

There were about 50 people following her around, so it was hard to step in and get a picture of the plants. The lady leading it was a herb expert an we heard about the normal edible plants (which, she pointed out, edible doesn’t mean they taste great, it just means they won’t kill you if you eat them.) Dandelion, mallow plant (which should be putting out edible seed pods right about now, but I think Maisy eats them before we see them), herbs like mint, thyme, sage, and lavender.

We saw plants in the violet family like these Johnny-jump-ups, violas and violets.

We saw burdock, stinging nettles, rose hips, and Oregon grapes.

We saw huge rose hips, but they were from last season. We saw Creeping Charlie plants and another creeping plant that has white flowers in it…I can’t remember the name, but we have it in our yard (we also have the one with blue flowers, but that is called Veronica and is not edible.) The girls chilled out for a bit during the tour.

In our yard we have: mint, creeping (white flower), mallow, burdock, thyme, sage, rose hips, juniper and dandelion and none of that is anything that I planted. Yes, you can eat juniper berries, our guide went over pine needles and juniper berries on the walk. The trees on the CU campus are starting to bloom, this one has pretty reddish flowers when it blooms (that you can’t eat.)

We got home and had enough time to do some school. Bethany was told by her English teacher that her speech analysis pre-write was good as is and didn’t need any revision, I told her that the last paragraphs could use a little refining, so she did that and turned it in. You can read it here. The poem prompt for the day was to take an old poem of yours and change 50% of the words, here they are.

Hannah chose her alliteration poem, she likes the other one better.

both yellow bees have been nice
they carry couches to the court
basically they can hear
after dawn they go have honey

Grace chose her odd numbered poem, she likes the night one better.

is very bright
whenever the sun is shining
the glow melts the snow.

Bethany also did her odd poem, she likes them both.

Ciao, vale, auf wiedersehen, au revoir, la revedere
this means goodbye
now you know five.

I chose my alliteration poem, I like this one too.

rain, softly, silently,
falls quite steadily,
drenching the world in dew.

Bethany got dropped off at church for a girls retreat. They are going to Winter Park, so she brought warm clothes and cash for trinkets. Grace and Hannah had a co-op at Eileen’s house. They ate pasta, made a stuffed snowgirl and watched Frozen. James and I went to the mall and ate at La Sandia, then we went to Cabela’s to see what was there. Cool stuff, expensive stuff, stuff that I would like to have on a camping trip, but dang, expensive. The girls had fun, of course, thanks for a great night Eileen!

In other news, my curtains and toaster got together and made a crock-pot.

Not really, my Mom ordered it. The toaster was a Christmas gift, the crock-pot is a very early Anniversary present, I like it. I’m not saying that food is going to taste better coming out of such a colorful crock-pot, but it’s nice to see on the counter.

DOD tomorrow!

St. John’s

Look, the shoe fairy came to visit…and 4 of those pairs belong to Hannah.

The concert at St. John’s Tuesday was amazing. We heard from the Opera Colorado folks that we saw last week, but they sounded much better in the cathedral. They sang songs from opera to musical theater and even jazz.

After the concert, we toured around the church. Do you know what the difference between a cathedral and a church is? Cathedral comes from Latin cathedra, “seat”, a cathedral is the seat of the bishop, where he is set for the diocese. We also saw the chapel and found out that the word chapel comes from capella (L) which means “cloak” and refers to the cloak of St. Martin that he cut in half so he could give a beggar (Christ in disguise) something to wear. The French version changed the word into our current chapel and chaplain.

St. John’s cathedral was built in 1903 and is not the first or second, but the third cathedral that was built. The first was aptly named ‘St. John’s church in the wilderness’ and the rector noted of his first 12 burials – 2 executed for murder, 5 shot, 1 shot himself, 1 died of delirium and 3 of natural causes. The second was built in 1885 and was destroyed by fire 23 years later, but they managed to save the rood screen, a Tiffany stained glass window and the wooden figures that stand in the chancel.

The cathedral will be built in the shape of a cross, eventually. Right now it has the long part of the cross and a temporary chancel where the short arm will be. Two stones link the church to it’s Anglican past, one from Canterbury and one from Westminster.

There are 45 stained glass windows in the sanctuary and the Tiffany glass (1889) is over the main entrance.

The crosses are covered right now due to Lent and the Patriarchal (double) cross is at the front of the church.

Wandering around we saw Dagwell hall which has cute figures on the stained glass.

The smaller chapel in the back was supposed to be the children’s chapel, now they have small services and other events there. The ceiling is hand painted and the lovely wood carving was created by a Denver artist and early director of the DAM back in the 20′s.

It’s a very pretty church with a lot of history in it, I’m glad we could tour around.

My side of the mountain

Bethany did something in each of her classes this morning, since we’ll be in WP tomorrow, I know that we’re not going to have time to do much school in the morning. There are already research paper topics in history and english coming up next week, so jumping ahead is a good thing.

Grace, Hannah and I went to a co-op slightly based on the book My Side of the Mountain. First we tried to start a fire with a flint and steel, easier said than done especially when the wind was blowing so hard.

After everyone got a turn the boys decided to try again and have the kids stand around to block the wind, they got close, but still no fire.

Next we went on a walk to identify some edible plants, tough luck if you are looking to eat them right now, most don’t have the berries/flowers or green leaves yet. We talked about the yucca, you can eat the flowers and the seeds (about 1-3 weeks after they flower), you can boil and eat the roots, and you can rub the leaves and roots in water to get a kind of soap.

Currant bushes produce currant berries, you can eat those or make them into jam.

We found some herbs like sage, thyme and mint. Pigweed (or miner’s candle) can be eaten when green, you can eat the leaves like spinach and also cook the green heads. I suppose you could eat the berries when they are brown if you cooked them first.

Roses have rosehips, you can eat them raw, cooked or make tea or wine with them. We might try tea this summer.

We saw cactus too, if you pick off the spines you can eat it, make a drink from it or fry it up and eat it. Other things that you can eat in the wild (but we didn’t see on our hike) are: cattails (you can eat the brown part early in the season like a corn cob, you can eat the roots and grind the roots into a flour), wild strawberries and raspberries (we find these up in the mountains in late summer), dandelions (you can eat the flowers, stems and roots), pinon pine (the tree has nuts that you can eat.)

Rule of thumb, if you aren’t sure about a plant – don’t eat it. Know what plants are in the places where you live or are hiking around. Don’t eat plants (for the most part) that exhibit these traits: Milky or discolored sap, Spines, fine hairs, or thorns, Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods, Bitter or soapy taste, Dill, carrot, parsnip, or parsley-like foliage, “Almond” scent in the woody parts and leaves, Grain heads with pink, purplish, or black spurs, Three-leaved growth pattern. It might be best to have a book with you to identify edible plants or even make your own cards by taping the berries/leaves/shoots/flowers to an index card and writing the name of the plant and what parts are edible.

Cpt. Jepp

Hannah is writing an essay about Mr. Otter, that topic won out over a list of things like: the cruise, camping, going to a concert and staying in a hotel. Wow. Grace is navigating the on-line HS model of math with her course promotion, it’s 7th grade pre-algebra, but the course is on-line and looks just like the HS courses. Bethany is on spring break and is finishing up her fan fiction story that she started on the cruise, it’s a good story, but is really like a mini-novel at this point.

We had a treat for lunch, we went to Perfect Landing with friends before our co-op at Jeppesen. We had lunch and watched the jets and planes take off and land (they have really good creme brulee there….just saying.) My co-op was a presentation at the Jeppesen building.

If you fly, you know about Capt. Jepp. This one man changed how aviators flew and the company today is changing as well; charts and maps now come on tablets and i-pads – if you’ve ever seen the flight charts and maps you know what a big deal that is.


But, back to Jepp. His pilot’s license was signed by Orville Wright! When he started flying US mail there were no charts. Pilots used road maps or flew with the railroad tracks and used farmer’s fields for landings. Imagine trying to get from Denver to Cheyenne without a flight map, just using roads, not knowing about mountain heights or obstacles, scary. In fact, in one year the mail flights lost 4 out of 18 pilots. So, Jepp started writing in a little black book, he wrote down altitudes, drew maps of fields and other airports. He asked for help from farmers, police, even cowboys who gave him detailed information about the places he was flying to. Soon, other pilots wanted the information that Jepp had, so he started selling copies of his black book. When he went to work for United airlines (who had their own version of charts and maps) the pilots told UA they wanted Jeppesen charts. Fun fact, when carrying the US mail Elrey Jeppesen worked for Boeing air transport, now the parent company that owns Jeppesen is Boeing. Jeppesen is working to get rid of paper charts and put the charts on tablets or i-pads, seriously this is such a good idea. It’s not just paper that we’re talking about, it’s the revisions and the updates and the expired laws…..did you think that was luggage pilots are carrying off the plane? Nope, it’s charts. I think future pilots will have it easy, James and Joel poured over paper charts and sometimes even looked at them in the cockpit while they were flying – not good. After the presentation we all got goodie bags full of cool things like frisbees, key chains, water bottles and other neat things.

If you’re wondering what Jepp is holding, March madness has hit everywhere. That was a great tour, even if we didn’t get to see the printing press….

Maya and kites

No, the Maya didn’t make kites…actually I don’t know if they did or not, but kites are later. First off, wasn’t Mt. Evans looking splendid?

Today we went to the DMNS to see the Maya exhibit with our homeschool group, I think we had about 38 kids and that was more than any school group I saw go in.

We started with a movie and then moved into the archaeological area. Some of the items were real, some were casts, some were replicas.

I’m not going to point out real vs. fake, I’d just say go to the museum and see the exhibit, it was pretty cool. (Rule of thumb, if you can touch it – probably not real!)

We found out where the Maya lived, learned how the priests would sacrifice on altars such as this one, saw statues of Kings and played with a computer to print out a name in Mayan.

There were pots to put together and a look at what volume of work someone might have putting all those pieces together.

There was a Mayan calendar on the computer and it would spit out the symbols for any date you put into it. We wandered through the stars and saw how the Maya used the planets and stars to calculate time.

There was a virtual dig, the kids could move an x-ray around and then look closer at an object that they found.

We went through a Mayan marketplace, saw how they played ball (with an 8 lb rubber ball that they bounced off of their hips, ouch.) You could drill a hole in a plastic tooth to see how the Maya drilled holes in their teeth to insert stones and jewels. We saw art, food and dances of the Maya.

Another spot had you take a profile picture and then drag Maya outfits onto your head; this headgear and markings are from a Noblewoman.

We smelled incense, saw a feather from a Quetzal bird, saw how cocoa is grown and harvested and saw weavings and block puzzles. There was a lot to see and read and had we spent more time, we probably would have learned more, but lunch was calling.

After lunch we went into the gem and mineral room, look, agate fractals.

This reminds me of the crystals in the Superman movie.

We went into the Wildlife halls where the manatees scared the girls. We left the museum with A, she was coming to play and go to the kite workshop with us. As for the Maya exhibit, there were more hands-on things to do at the Mythbusters exhibit, but I think overall this exhibit is better. Here is a good site to learn more about the Maya and here is another one.

Kites. We went to the library and had a kite making expert help us make some scoop kites. The girls attached the sticks, the bridle, the string and then colored the kites with markers.

After we were all done we went outside to try them out.

It was pretty windy and some of the kites got busted up after landing hard on the pavement, but it was nothing a little tape couldn’t fix.

I’m just happy all of the kites flew. Here is a site that tells you one way to make your own kite. A good day.

Early Mardi Gras



We learned that Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, that it is the day before Ash Wednesday and the season leading up to Mardi Gras is Carnival (which is from the Latin word carne vale – carne means meat, vale means to remove.) The colors of Mardi Gras are purple – justice, green – faith and gold – power. The King cake is a cinnamon bread with icing and colored sprinkles with a baby Jesus baked into it, the person who gets the baby has good luck for the year and has to bring a King cake the next year. Krewes are groups that work together on floats, they usually have a theme and they elect a Rex – King and a Queen for their floats. In Cajun country, people dressed for Mardi Gras ride to neighbors houses and put on a show in exchange for coins and beads. Mardi Gras and Carnival is a time for balls, masks, beads, parties and parades, all fun and games before Lent begins.

Before we read about Mardi Gras, I showed some pictures from Manitou’s 2012 Mardi Gras parade. Then we read about how the festival got started (the French brought it to LA in the 1600′s, Spanish countries celebrated Carnival, the time after Three Kings Day, and also celebrated Shrove Tuesday before Lent.)

I threw beads and everyone got a mask, then we had King cake. I had the Internet radio tuned to Cajun Mardi Gras, it was very upbeat.

Since we’re a month out from the real Mardi Gras (March 4th) I made a cake from cinnamon rolls, it turned out pretty good. I iced it with vanilla icing and sprinkles. The next part was the fun part, the kids got to make shoebox floats. I didn’t have enough boxes for one per kid, so siblings and friends collaborated (I like to call that ‘learning to value others opinions’) to create these awesome floats.

(Although some kids did get their own shoebox.)

Obviously this one is Grace’s .

This one was voted the slowest float (because it’s a turtle, a ‘box’ turtle…get it?)

The parade start.

The float that is being held up was a hover float….just so you know.

Some floats also made good masks (and hats.)

Before we left I checked to make sure the kids knew some things like: what was Mardi Gras, when is it celebrated, why is it celebrated, what is the season before and after it, what are the colors and what do they stand for and why is there a baby Jesus in the cake. They did great, before we started the kids really had no idea what this was, they thought it had something to do with eating a lot of food on Fat Tuesday and having a parade. I think everyone wants to go to the Manitou Mardi Gras now (if you do, it’s March 1st about 1pm.) Most of all, everyone had fun and it wasn’t too chaotic with 20 kids in the room!

Mardi Gras coloring pages here and here.


It’s that time again, sign-ups starts on Monday and look at all the cool classes we have to choose from! (Mine are marked by **) But first, Bethany had to do an art project for Art appreciation, so she made Kandinsky trees and did one in cool colors and one in red monotone colors.

So that meant that Hannah and Grace wanted to make some art too, I let them cut paper circles instead of painting (Grace still needs to color her tree trunk.)

I think they all turned out very well.

Money Makes the World Go ‘Round – Federal Reserve
Money Makes the World Go ‘Round – Denver Mint
Money Makes the World Go ‘Round – Fair Trade
Money Makes the World Go ‘Round – Bank Tour
Anchor Center Tour
Ask the Doctor
Kids First Aid Class
Prehistoric Sea Monsters!
Preschool Interactive Storytime
Bird Adaptations and Diet
Make Your Own Artwork Transfer Tee
Passport to Paris exhibit – Denver Art Museum
Oh là là! Conversational French
**Mardi Gras party
**Mosaic hearts
CGH Valentine’s Party
Building a terrarium
A Tour Through Geologic Time
Coins from Around the World
Teen Yoga, Saturday
How to raise baby chicks
Beginners’ Fashion Design
Craft Stash Swap
Toddler/Preschool Busy Bag Swap & Playdate
Ice Skating at DU Ritchie Center
Outdoor Nature Skills Class
A Topical Book Club
King Soopers Tour
New MAYA exhibit at DMNS
Scarves for Troops
Historical State Capitol Tour
Legislative State Capitol Tour
**Jeppensen presentation
School of Rock
My Side of the Mountain
Insect Hotels
Winter Park field trip
**St. John’s tour and concert
Colorado History at Hiwan Homestead Museum
Quilted (No-Sew) Holiday Ornaments Part I
Frozen Movie Night, Parents Night Out
River Races
Art of Egg Decorating, part 1: Natural dyes
Art of Egg Decorating, part 2: Decoupage
Art of Egg Decorating, Part 3: Pysansky
Art of Egg Decorating, part 4: Sculpt
Quilted (No-Sew) Holiday Ornaments Part II
**Draw, crumple, rip, tear
Scarves for Troops
A Topical Book Club
Spring Time Fun for Littles
Calling All Bronies and Pegasisters!
Juggling and Brain Gym
Hand tinting Black and White photos
**Bluff lake hike and geo-cache
EcoSystem Investigations
Kitchen Science Bath Fizzies!
Scarves for Troops
Wildflower Hike at Roxborough State Park
Sensory Play for Toddlers


Advent reading for the day – Hebrews 2:14–15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Thing to do – watch Elf with friends.

First, you must decorate; we went with blue and white, we made paper links and snowflakes for the ceiling and windows.

We made peppermint cookies, we had 4 kinds of marshmallows (pumpkin spice, regular, chocolate vanilla and peppermint.)

There were blue candy canes, red and white canes, chocolate chip cookies, caramel corn, popcorn, peppermint brownies and hot cocoa. We had fun watching the movie and singing along.

The kids played afterward for a bit and then everyone went on their merry way, hopefully a little happier because after all – the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loudly so all can hear! H and T got to come over, they’re in town for a few more days, look at H, he’s as tall as my tree (actually, he’s taller.)

We’re so glad we had friends come over to share the movie, I think it’s starting to be an annual tradition.